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The chapter this week was all about stress and reminded me of one of our very own professors here at University of Alabama, Dr. Dressler. His work on cultural consonance and its connection in African Americans in Alabama and higher blood pressure levels is actually mentioned in the chapter we read. The chapter discussed how blood pressure and depression are some of the responses that occur from stressors. The article I decided to look at was “Does perceived stress mediate the effect of cultural consonance on depression?” In the article the researchers, Mauro Balieiro, Manoel Antônio dos Santos, José Ernesto dos Santos, and William Dressler were interested to see “does stress appraisal, as measured by the PSS, mediate the effects of cultural consonance on depressive symptoms? (Balieiro, Antônio dos Santos, Ernesto dos Santos , Dressler, 2011: 532).”

In the article, the study takes place in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, looking at four different neighborhoods with varying socioeconomic status (SES). The four communities SES are lower class, lower middle class, traditional middle class, and upper middle class. There were four cultural domains that they were researching, including lifestyle, social support, family life, and national identity. To identify parts of the domain participants were asked to free list terms or things that are important to that domain, such as “ what things are important to have to live a good life? (Balieiro, Antônio dos Santos, Ernesto dos Santos , Dressler, 2011: 526).” This provides the investigators with many terms, these were then narrowed down to 20 to 30 terms that exemplify the cultural domain. Participants were then told to take these terms and sort them into piles based on similarities. Also participants were asked to rank order these terms from most important to that domain to least important. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Brazilian Portuguese version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Perceived stress was measures using Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) that was translated into Portuguese. Three covariates were used, including age, gender, and SES. All tests were done during two separate time periods.

The results show that “the effect of cultural consonance in lifestyle is reduced to statistical non-significance (p<.10) when PSS is controlled (Balieiro, Antônio dos Santos, Ernesto dos Santos , Dressler, 2011: 531).” Also it was found that “the effect of cultural consonance in family life on depressive symptoms that is mediated by the PSS is statistically significant (z=2.75, p<.01) (Balieiro, Antônio dos Santos, Ernesto dos Santos , Dressler, 2011: 532).” It has been found that the being cultural consonant in a domain and being unable to obtain this results in depression in individuals. From these results it was concluded that the PSS somewhat resolves the depression that occurs from cultural consonance. This suggests that more research should be done, specifically looking at other cultural domains.

Balieiro, M.C., Antônio dos Santos, M., Ernesto dos Santos, J., Dressler, W.W. (2011). Does perceived stress mediate the effect of cultural consonance on depression?. Transcultural Psychiatry, 48 (5): 519-538.